The best day of any year!
The Durban July Handicap and the start of the world's greatest race, the Tour de France.
I'm backing a roughie called Rain In Holland in the July. She's at 20-1. The favourite is See It Again, a full brother to the great Do It Again who himself will be breaking the record for the most times running in the July, having his 6th run in the race after winning it in his first two attempts. Do It Again is probably past it now but there won't be a dry eye in the house if he does do it yet again. His younger brother See It Again is an up and coming 3 year old with excellent form but it's a wide open race this year and a case can be made for nearly every runner.
The Tour de France will see Tadej Pogacar and Jonas Vingegaard renew their great rivalry, Pogacar having won in 2020 and 2021 before Vingegarrd dethroned him in last year's edition. Normally it would be a very close call between the two but Pog fractured his wrist a few months ago and while he's fit, the injury has affected his build-up to the race and he may not be at his awesome best, which makes Vingegaard a clear favourite to win the Yellow Jersey this year.
The incredibly versatile Wout Van Aert would have been the hot favourite to win the Green Jersey for a second year in a row but for the fact that his wife is expecting their second child at some point during the race meaning Van Aert won't be targetting the Green Jersey this year as he will more than likely abandon the race about half way through . . . but he will be hungry for stage wins in the first week and could well be in the Yellow jersey early on. That leaves the Green jersey to be fought out between the reduced sprint specialist Mads Pedersen and the pure sprinters like Jasper Philipsen and Fabio Jakobsen. The Eritrean Birniam Girmay is another reduced sprint specialist and might be the dark horse in this race. Hope he can win a stage or two for the African continent.
As ever, the winner of the Polka Dot jersey is anyone's guess but I'm hoping Thibaud Pinot goes for it this year but who knows? Circumstances and breakaways often determine who is going to try for this jersey. Warren Barguil, Giulio Ciccone, Simon Geschke and Ruben Guerreiro are other candidates but the likely winner could well be the GC top guns like Pogacar or Vingegaard . . . or one of the other GC favourites who has a bad day early on and decided to focus on the King of the Mountains instead.
Pogacar will almost certainly win the White Jersey for best young rider unless he abandons in which case it'll probably be out of Carlos Rodriguez of Ineos Grenadiers or the new young sensation from Switzerland Mattias Skjelmose.
I'll be pulling for Tadej Pogacar again while also hoping for Wout Van Aert to win as many stages as possible before he abandons.
C an't wait!